Monthly Archives: July 2011
Less than a few days since my last post on the smell lingering at North Yorkshire Police, here we go with yet another media splash, for all the wrong reasons.
A smidgen of evidence has emerged (thanks to a press FOI request) that tends to support the well-known fact… You actually can’t do more with less, at least not to the same standards and certainly not with the previous expediency… Despite all the politically motivated management rhetoric!
Nobody likes a smug smart arse muttering ”I told you so”, do they? However, on behalf of all those who were brave enough to lock horns with the management and voice their concerns before the shit hit the fan, and who’s services were ultimately later dispensed with any way… “We Told You So!”
The Superintendent (currently) heading the Control Room functions is quoted as saying it’s ”impossible to make such a major change without temporarily affecting the speed of response to calls” but they are still ‘within target’. Well thanks for that, I’m sure everyone who has received poor service at the end of a phone, or suffered additional problems due to a poor response time from reduced resources, will be grateful for that comforting statement. And let’s not forget all those devoted and hardworking individuals who lost their jobs during this dog’s dinner of change management.
I used the term ‘currently’ above as I understand from various sources that, the end of the man’s tenure is imminent. He would probably say he is moving on after a job well done however, most would suspect he is being put somewhere he can’t cause any more damage, hopefully.
POLICE have admitted they are taking longer to answer phone calls, following a switch to only one control room for the whole of North Yorkshire…(yorkpress.co.uk)
The above article contains some interesting comments from readers to help gauge the public’s feelings on the matter.
Police answers emergency calls more slowly: North Yorkshire Police is taking longer to answer emergency calls after closing one of two control rooms in the county… The force says the situation will improve with the recruitment of new staff… (bbc.co.uk)ment
Despite the spun apology of sorry but it will get better, the York Press article goes on to highlight other factors, such as the adoption of the 101 non-emergency number later this year, which will have a negative impact upon the limp promises. In addition, other comments from sources close to the issues would tend to suggest; the problems currently being experienced within the Command and Control function are actually worse than the senior management are prepared to cough to and admit to the public.
It’s worth pointing out that; call statistics are based only upon those that get dealt with and not lost i.e. the times quoted only relate to calls answered and makes no mention of how many were lost due to undue delay. It is also interesting to note that any staff or system failures are rarely used in call handling statistics. Once again, the blind following and use of statistical information actually says very little about quality!
That in it self is unsurprising, senior police managers have become extremely adept at putting positive spin on negative issues over recent years. Blowing sunshine up the backside of the general public is now something of a CV requirement for police commanders. Being a little more honest with the whole truth wouldn’t go a miss, if only to prevent being found out after the event, never mind the advantages of not providing false expectations about ability. The service is hung up on bean counting and stats but hey, that’s ok so long as the force is within target… I’m also sorry to say North Yorkshire Police are not alone in this, a similar situation exists within most forces!
As I’ve said previously, this whole issue is about so much more than job losses, it’s about people and service to our community. All through the downsizing process, staff at various levels, were kept in the dark and fed bullshit by managers speaking with forked tongues. The last couple of years have proved to be; one of the finest examples of Mushroom Management I’ve seen for many a year. Whilst the public have been continually fed with good time stories that could win a literature prize.
There is no doubt that money has to be saved right across the public sector, the public purse has been more or less empty for some time. That said it’s somewhat farcical that; many of those charged with stemming the cash flow are actually the ones responsible for the original mismanagement in the first place.
And as the force fails to find a suitable Deputy Chief Constable to fill the vacancy resulting from the nepotism incident last year, to say there is a problem with the management of North Yorkshire Police is something of a bloody understatement. Is it any wonder that workforce morale is so low and major blips are starting to appear in the public confidence graph?
“Mushrooms… We Have A Problem!”
Here we go again… Crime figures - up and down, more times than a whore’s drawers… Should we trust the stats and more importantly, what do they actually mean?
The opening line of this post was not intended to offend however, it is intended to be cynical and flippant.
As Mark Easton (BBC Home Affairs Editor) points out in his article Burglar Bill and statistical insignificance; “It’s that time of year again when journalists scour the crime figures for England and Wales for reasons to send us whimpering to the locksmith.”
The British Crime Survey (BCS) of 45,000 people recently indicated that overall crime levels were up slightly, though researchers said this was not “statistically significant“. Officials regard the BCS as the most reliable indicator of crime trends. Separate data of crimes recorded by police showed crime fell 4% and domestic burglary was down 4%… (bbc.co.uk)
The British Crime Survey (BCS) asks people aged 16 and over living in households in England and Wales about their experiences of crime in the last 12 months. These experiences are used to estimate levels of crime in England and Wales. (Home Office). But why do we have to ‘estimate’ when all crime is (supposedly) recorded by the police?
It appears that some journalists and commentators are (finally) becoming just as sceptical about crime figures as those with first hand knowledge of the real situation… “If you’re looking for clarity about crime, these figures don’t provide it“…(Danny Shaw – BBC Home affairs correspondent).
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics”
The above is an often used line when arguing a point and, as Wikipedia explains; it is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, and the tendency of people to disparage statistics that do not support their positions. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point. This explanation of that well-known phrase is so poignant and correct.
Crime figures, like so many other forms of statistical information today, are often manipulated or interfered with to ‘prove’ a particular point. It’s a practice that has gone on for years and various individuals and/or organisation have become extremely adept at it, not least the police service. There was a time when the ‘manipulation’ was born out of a simple instruction from the local Detective Inspector;“don’t crime that son, we haven’t got a bloody body for it yet”.
However, what was once a widespread but simple attempt to improve the appearance of performance, is now something of a required trait in the police, one that is driven by senior commanders and their political masters. During my thirty years service as a police officer the Home Office Counting Rules, which govern how/when and which crimes the police actually record, could change substantially year on year, all dictated by the current political drive. A climate driven by a need for politicians to court the popularity of an electorate, often solely informed by the sensationalism of journalists.
As I’ve said before (on numerous occasions), the only way to have a true picture of crime is to record and report on it as per legal definition. No lumping of similar crimes into a single recordable figure, no sanctioned and non sanctioned detection. If we want to have any confidence in the statistics we need to be more honest in how we record the figures in the first place. A crime is a crime… Simples!
If you really want to try to understand crime figures and how they are manipulated, one of the greatest sources of information about current practices can be found at The Thin Blue Line.
The Crime Analysis Team at Nice 1 Limited (the company behind the site), are a group of professionals with a wealth of experience in business & law enforcement. Their aim is to raise public awareness about the true picture of policing and crime. They do this by providing in-depth analysis of trends & public domain statistics and explain the challenges facing policing in the UK today. If you have the remotest interest in what the statisticians and politicians are trying to get you to believe, I commend this site to you.
Don’t always (blindly) believe what you are told, at least not without researching it first.